Natalie Grams

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Natalie Grams
Natalie Grams wearing golden earrings, with a short haircut
Grams in 2018
Born (1978-04-12) April 12, 1978 (age 40)
Munich, West Germany
NationalityGerman
Occupation
Years active2004–present
Known for
  • Criticism of homeopathy
  • Advocacy of Better Medicine
Websitenatalie-grams.de (in German)

Natalie Grams (born 12 April 1978) is a German physician and author. Formerly a practicing homeopath, she became known throughout Germany as a whistleblower for her 2015 debut book Homeopathy Reconsidered — What Really Helps Patients in which she criticized homeopathy. In 2016 she joined the Science Council of the Society for the Scientific Investigation of Parasciences (GWUP - the German Sceptics Association). and in January 2017 she became Communications Manager for the GWUP.[1] She also serves on the advisory board of the humanist Giordano Bruno Foundation since May 2017,[2] and as vice president of the Humanist Press Foundation in Germany since October 2017.[3] In October 2017 her second book, Gesundheit — A Book Not Without Side Effects, was published.

Biography[edit]

Grams grew up in Bavaria, where she graduated high school in 1997. She studied medicine at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Technical University of Munich, and Heidelberg University, where in 2005 she gained licensure as a physician in Germany.[4][5] In 2007 she received her doctorate as a medical faculty member at the University of Zurich. Until 2009 she was an intern at a private religiously-affiliated hospital in Heidelberg, where she specialized in geriatric and palliative medicine.[6]

In 2004, in parallel with her medical education, Grams began pursuing education in traditional Chinese medicine and homeopathy. She completed her homeopathic education with an additional professional designation in that area,[7] and was active exclusively in private homeopathic practice from 2009 through 2015.[6]

In May 2015 her first book Homeopathy Reconsidered — What Really Helps Patients was published by Springer Verlag in German (German title Homöopathie neu gedacht – Was Patienten wirklich hilft). She abandoned her homeopathic activity the same year.[8] Grams is currently active as a science communicator.[9]

Criticism of homeopathy and alternative medicine[edit]

Grams is an authority, and a leading participant in public debate, on the subject of homeopathy.[10][11] As a practicing homeopathic doctor she was interviewed by journalists Christian Weymayr and Nicole Heißmann for their book The Homeopathy Lie (German title: Die Homöopathie-Lüge).[12] Upon reading that book's criticism of homeopathy, Grams wanted to write a rebuttal from the homeopathic perspective.[13]

Instead, her research on this rebuttal and her intensive consideration of scientific findings[14][15] on the subject of homeopathy led Grams to revise her own views. Rather than the planned defense, her first book Homeopathy Reconsidered — What Really Helps Patients, published in May 2015, turned out to be a critical examination of the discipline. The book is especially critical of claims that homeopathy constitutes a specific drug therapy.[13] Grams tried to be empathetic in her writing style, intending for the reader to "feel [her] agony, discovering these facts about homeopathy."[16] As a practicing homeopath, Grams had experienced individual successes in treating patients, but her search for scientific arguments to justify these successes led her to realize that little evidence existed.[17] She described the onset of her doubt toward homeopathy as coming "…when [she] learned that, in evaluating the efficacy of a therapy, the decisive thing is not one's experience but rather the results of clinical studies."[18] She has said that letting go of her perception of homeopathy as "some sort of 'parallel knowledge' … just as admissable and legitimate as scientific knowledge" required a realization that she had deeply deceived herself.[19][20]

At the end of this learning process, Grams decided to abandon her own private homeopathic practice, and with it her previous economic livelihood, because she no longer wanted to offer therapies that she could not fully stand behind.[11] In explaining this decision, she draws a contrast between the lack of scientific support[14][21][22] for homeopathy and the positive aspects of a homeopathic setting, including the approachable and attentive style of patient care sometimes termed talking medicine.[23] Grams describes Samuel Hahnemann, the originator of homeopathy, as a clever person who rebelled against a superstitious, prescientific medical establishment which promoted therapies that imperiled the lives of patients; as she put it, "[h]omeopathy was, at the time, the lesser evil."[24] She says that Hahnemann's own theories amounted to self-deception, with efficacy no greater than a placebo, "[w]hich is not surprising, since [homeopathic] medicines contain nothing."[25][26] Grams credits a book by Daniel Kahneman with helping her understand that homeopathy had appealed to her fast, intuitive thought processes, bypassing her slow, analytical faculties, and that she had "avoided cognitive dissonance by rationally questioning homeopathy at a very late stage."[27]

Although Grams fundamentally opposes homeopathy as a discipline, she wishes to see mainstream health systems embrace the idea of better medicine — an effort to enable intensive attention to the patient in daily medical practice.[28] In interviews with German daily newspapers Süddeutsche Zeitung and Die Welt, Grams stated that "[h]omeopathy works because we homeopaths and our patients have the idea that it works",[29] and characterized homeopathy itself as a patient which "lacks data and facts, it hallucinates, it does not want to admit its illness. But insight into illness can be a first step to recovery."[30] She perceives a distorted picture among homeopaths of scientific work, in which science is thought to be not a method but a worldview; this misunderstanding leads to a lack of clarity about the ardour and rigor science requires in order to produce a result. She nonetheless considers the practical element of homeopathy — attentiveness to the patient — valuable, opining that physicians "must carry this over into everyday medical and clinical life — but without the magic part involving succussion and potentization."[31] In an interview with Der Spiegel, Grams said that given the lack of evidence for homeopathic medicines' efficacy exceeding the placebo effect, "[i]f a group of doctors staunchly asserts that homeopathy works, one must — for the sake of patients — object."[32]

The impact of Grams' position in print media,[33][34][13][35][36][37][31] radio, and television[38][39][40][41] was an essential factor in the intensified German public discourse surrounding homeopathy since 2015.[42][43][44][45] She delivered a talk at SkepKon 2017 titled Enlightenment about pseudomedicine: What have skeptics achieved?[46]

Along with author and homeopathy critic Norbert Aust, Grams co-founded the Information Network on Homeopathy (Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie — INH) in 2016.[47][48][11][49]

She lent her expertise as a member of the "Münsteraner Kreis", a free association of scientists on the subject of "Pseudomedicine in Public Health",.as an author in support of the Münster Memorandum on Practitioners of Alternative Medicine, which aims to mitigate the potential for patient harm from therapists who lack academic medical education (Heilpraktiker — literally healing practitioners) by proposing a German regulatory framework to balance the concerns of patient autonomy and freedom of therapy against fairness to health insurance providers and insurees.[50][51] She also co-authored the second publication of the Münsteraner Kreis, the "Münster Memorandum on Homeopathy" [52], which appeared in 2018.

Reaction[edit]

Grams took up the publication of her 2015 book with the intention of stimulating self-reflection among those in the homeopathic orbit. She has expressed regret that this introspection had not yet happened. Homeopaths who reviewed her first book have questioned the motivation behind her conversion and expressed astonishment that Grams did not "wash out" of her homeopathic education relatively early, given her doubts.[53][54]

As of November 2017 she was working on a book collecting and examining the many angry e-mails and comments she has received in response to her writing and activism. She hopes to reach people who hold the popular perception of homeopaths as "lovely, … empathetic, and good people" and prompt them to re-examine that opinion.[55]

Writings[edit]

  • Homöopathie neu gedacht – Was Patienten wirklich hilft (Homeopathy Reconsidered — What Really Helps Patients). Springer-Verlag, Berlin/ Heidelberg 2015, ISBN 978-3-662-45336-0. Will be published in English in January 2019 under the title "Homeopathy reconsidered - What Patients really helps". Springer Nature Switzerland 2019, ISBN 978-3-030-00508-5
  • Gesundheit – Ein Buch nicht ohne Nebenwirkungen (Gesundheit — A Book Not Without Side Effects). Springer-Verlag, Berlin/ Heidelberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-662-54798-4.

See also[edit]

  • Edzard Ernst : German-born former homeopath turned outspoken critic of homeopathy and alternative medicine generally
  • Britt Marie Hermes : American ex-naturopath turned whistleblower; As of January 2018, remediating her academic medical education in Germany

References[edit]

  1. ^ "GWUP — Die Skeptiker — Wissenschaftsrat" [GWUP — The Skeptics — Council of Science and Humanities]. GWUP.org (in German). Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Beiratsmitglieder der Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung" [Advisory Board Members of the Giordano Bruno Foundation]. Giordano Bruno Stiftung (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Der Trägerverein des hpd mit neuem Präsidium" [Supporting Staff of HPD with New Executive Committee]. hpd.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  4. ^ Grabar, Edda. "Homöopathie: Die Nestbeschmutzerin" [Homeopathy: The Whistleblower]. zeit.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  5. ^ Bergmann, Jens. "Natalie Grams: Die Ketzerin" [Natalie Grams: The Heretic]. brandeins.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b Grams, Natalie. "Lebenslauf" [Curriculum Vitae]. natalie-grams.de (in German). Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Who is Who: Dr. Natalie Grams". GWUP.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Eine Ärztin denkt um: "Homöopathie hat keine arzneiliche Wirkung"" [A Physician Thinks About: "Homeopathy has no Medicinal Effect"]. rnz.de (in German). Rhein Neckar Zeitung. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Nachrichten am 12.01.2017" [Stories on 12.01.2017]. GWUP.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  10. ^ "Homöopathie: Wirksame Medizin oder Geldverschwendung?" [Homeopathy: Effective Medicine or Waste of Money?]. daserste.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "Kritische Diskussion über die Homöopathie – Wirksame Medizin oder Placebo" [Critical Discussion About Homeopathy — Effective Medicine or Placebo]. Heilpraxisnet.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Für alle Homöopathen, die meinen, meine Story wäre nur erfunden..." [For All Homeopaths Who Think my Story was Made Up]. homoeopathie-neu-gedacht.blogspot.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  13. ^ a b c "Ex-Homöopathin über Globuli "Es war mein Lebenstraum"" [Ex Homeopath on Globules "It was my Life's Dream"]. taz.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b "NHMRC Statement on Homeopathy and NHMRC Information Paper – Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions". nhmrc.gov.au. Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Australischer Gutachter "Immer noch keine Evidenz für die Homöopathie"" [Australian Expert "Still no Evidence for Homeopathy"]. deutsche-apotheker-zeitung.de (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  16. ^ Pintér, András; Levin, Jelena; Böckman, Pontus (3 October 2016). "Episode #042, feat. Natalie Grams" (MP3). soundcloud.com. 9m32s: The European Skeptics Podcast. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  17. ^ Eppner, Andrea. "Weil sie nicht mehr an Homöopathie glaubte, schloss sie ihre Praxis" [Because She No Longer Believed in Homeopathy, She Closed her Practice]. merkur.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Auslöser war ein Buch, das ich zur Verteidigung der Homöopathie schreiben wollte – als Reaktion auf das Buch „Die Homöopathie-Lüge“. Bei der Recherche habe ich nach Argumenten gesucht, um die Erfolge, die ich jeden Tag mit Homöopathie erlebte, auch wissenschaftlich begründen zu können. Doch so sehr ich gesucht habe, ich musste feststellen: Es bleibt nicht viel übrig.
  18. ^ Corinna Hartmann (2017-09-05). "Gesundheitssystem: Homöopathie kann gefährlich sein" [Health System: Homeopathy Can be Hazardous]. spektrum.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2017. Der Zweifel kam, als ich lernte, dass Erfahrung bei der Wirksamkeitsbewertung einer Therapie nicht entscheidend ist, sondern das Ergebnis klinischer Studien.
  19. ^ Mützel, Daniel. "Gegen den "Irrsinn": Wissenschaftler fordern Abschaffung des Heilpraktikerberufs" [Against the "Madness": Scientists Demand Abolition of Alternative Practitioner Profession]. motherboard.vice.com (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Das war hart für mich, ich war da selbst so tief drin.
  20. ^ Nicolai, Frank. "Von der Homöopathin zur aktiven Homöopathie-Kritikerin" [From Homeopath to Active Homeopathy Critic]. hpd.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Mir kam die Homöopathie immer wie so eine Art "Parallelwissen" vor, dass genauso erlaubt und berechtigt ist wie das naturwissenschaftliche Wissen. Es war schwer einzusehen, wie sehr ich mich da getäuscht habe.
  21. ^ "Memorandum: On the Pseudoscience of Homeopathy". klnran.ru (in Russian). Russian Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Homöopathie ist Pseudowissenschaft – nun offiziell in Russland – Übersetzung des Memorandums und der Pressemitteilung" [Homeopathy is Pseudoscience – Now Officially in Russia – Translation of the Memoranda and the Press Release]. .netzwerk-homoeopathie.eu (in German). 8 February 2017. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  23. ^ Grams, Natalie; Aust, Norbert (1 September 2016). "Das INH nimmt Stellung zur aktuellen Debatte um die Rechte und Pflichten von Heilpraktikern" [The INH comments on current debate about rights and duties of alternative practitioners]. netzwerk-homoeopathie.eu (in German). Archived from the original on 26 January 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  24. ^ Albrecht, Bernhard. "Warum Natalie Grams mit der Homöopathie gebrochen hat" [Why Natalie Grams Broke with Homeopathy]. stern.de (in German). Archived from the original on 29 August 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2018. ...Hahnemann war sehr klug, er hinterfragte alles, und die Medizin, gegen die er damals rebellierte, war beherrscht von Aberglauben und Therapien, die lebensgefährlich für die Patienten waren. Die Homöopathie war damals das kleinere Übel...
  25. ^ Wirsching, Stefanie. "Warum eine Ärztin plötzlich ihre Meinung ändert" [Why a Physician Abruptly Changes her Mind]. augsburger-allgemeine.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Hahnemann hat sich getäucht.
  26. ^ "Natalie Grams Ex-Homöopathin: "Globuli sind Betrug am Patienten"" [Natalie Grams Ex-Homeopath: "Globules are Deceit of Patients"]. berliner-kurier.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Bei der Homöopathie geht eine Wirksamkeit nicht über ein Placebo hinaus. Was nicht verwunderlich ist, da ihre Medikamente nichts enthalten.
  27. ^ Nicolai, Frank. "Von der Homöopathin zur aktiven Homöopathie-Kritikerin" [From Homeopath to Active Homeopathy Critic]. hpd.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Ich habe erst durch ein Buch von Kahneman verstanden, das sich mit „schnellem und langsamen Denken“ beschäftigt, dass ich der Homöopathie mit meinem schnellen intuitiven Denken, vielleicht „Bauchgefühlsdenken“, angehangen habe, während ich sonst schon in der Lage zu rational-analytischem, also langsamen, Denken war. Ich habe die kognitive Dissonanz vermieden, indem ich die Homöopathie erst sehr spät auch rational hinterfragt habe.
  28. ^ Feldwisch-Drentrup, Hinnerk (2 February 2016). "Schlagwort: ehemaligen Alternativmedizinerin Natalie Grams" [Catchphrase: Ex-Alternative Medicine Practitioner Natalie Grams]. brightsblog.wordpress.com (in German). Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  29. ^ Schmitz, Thorsten. "Die Globulisierungsgegnerin" [The Opponent of Globulization]. sueddeutsche.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Homöopathie wirkt, weil wir als Homöopathen und weil unsere Patienten die Vorstellung haben, dass sie wirke.
  30. ^ Sudholt, Eva. ""Als wäre ich aus einer Sekte ausgestiegen"" ["As If I Escaped From a Cult"]. welt.de (in German). Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. Die Homöopathie ist selbst ein Patient. Es fehlt ihr an Daten und Fakten, sie halluziniert und will ihre Krankheit nicht wahrhaben. Aber Krankheitseinsicht kann ein erster Schritt zur Genesung sein.
  31. ^ a b "Wissenschaft ist eine Methode, kein Weltbild" [Science is a Method, not a Worldview]. Laborjournal online (in German). 1 October 2015. Archived from the original on 12 January 2018. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
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External links[edit]